More tax dollars wasted! Congress always find ways to throw away money. Why should they care its OUR money right! Continuing in the tradition of vanity earmarks such as the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service and the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport (built while he was still alive and in congress), South Carolina University received $24 Million of taxpayer dollars to build the James E. Clyburn University Transportation Center.
It was supposed to be a cutting edge transportation hub designed to give University students a leg up on the competition.
The four building, 33-acre complex, named after its most famous alumnus, Rep. James Clyburn, would be a monument to the future — where students could get hands-on experience and be a part of groundbreaking research in transportation.
Fast forward 15 years and the site once called the “project of the future” has morphed into a money-sucking pit. Aside from the $24 million in federal funding already spent on the project, an estimated $80 million more is needed to finish it. Of the four proposed buildings, only one has been constructed, and the program’s core goal — to provide educational and research opportunities to students at new high-tech facilities — has obviously not been met.
Federal funding, as of now, has been suspended. But the school could still reapply, and the largely undeveloped site stands as an example of money that could have been saved for a rainy day — funded by the same department that’s now moving forward with serious sequester-related cuts.
Seven years after the money was allocated builders broke ground and begun construction..then weird things started to happen:
the school learned — after the groundbreaking — that it did not own 3 acres in the middle of the 23-acre site and that negotiations to purchase that property took 18 months. Another year was tacked on for the city of Orangeburg to deed the street involved to the university. Then the state of South Carolina ordered the university to complete a traffic impact study, which took six months to do. In 2008, the chief architect for the project was diagnosed with cancer. This was followed by a record number of permit denials and modification demands. In 2009, more than one decade after the project was given the green light by the federal government, it finally won approval of the FHA and State Engineer’s Office.
The university opened the project up for bids on Dec. 18, 2009. The lowest of the 18 bids was selected, but four of the companies filed a protest. Then the chief architect died, and the search for a new one began. While permits were being secured and staff was being hired, the university underwent its own staffing changes — there had been three different presidents and the staff on the Clyburn transportation center had changed “four or five times” Clyburn said.
And, as with all public projects the costs continue to rise:
There is a possibility the amount of money the school needs to finish the project could eclipse the estimated $80 million.
“While various transportation activities have been discussed and included in our Transportation Program over the last 15 years, we cannot adequately determine the financial requirement for any plan that was discussed over that time period,” Dawkins said.
I have no argument with the University of South Carolina honoring Rep Clyburn by naming a building after him, the problem is that it is being done with federal taxpayer money and earmarked by Congress. Why is the federal government building transportation hubs at state universities—Isn’t that a state responsibility? Why is congress taking the responsibility of deciding where a local project should be built?
This is how the federal government spends our money and this spending has to stop now!